A new clinic in Kelowna offers ketamine-assisted therapy to help people with treatment-resistant depression.
The Capri Center Mall’s EntheoMed Ketamine suite recently completed its first four-week program with multiple patients, and the unique clinic opens to the general public next month.
While ketamine, a dissociative anesthetic, was first synthesized in 1962 and used as an anesthetic for decades, its antidepressant effects have been studied in recent years.
When given at a lower dose than used in anesthesia, ketamine can produce a psychedelic effect that EntheoTech Bioscience Inc. CEO Fraser Johnston says is an integral part of the treatment.
“A lot of people say the psychedelic experience is kind of an unwanted side effect…but we really encourage that altered state and that psychedelic experience because that’s where you can have those unique insights or shifts in perspective. “, Johnston said.
“Then we really want to harness what’s going on in that psychedelic experience, study it with the help of a psychotherapist and our psychedelic facilitator along with these other tools, to really crack that nut and create positive long-term outcomes. .
“If you’re struggling with some sort of mental health issue, imagine a ski slope where it hasn’t snowed for five weeks; you have these really defined ruts and grooves down the mountain. This psychedelic experience is basically like a dump of fresh snow that allows people to start creating new paths and new connections and sort of reframing their perspective.
The four-week program offered at EntheoMed includes three ketamine experiences administered at their clinic, along with “integration” techniques like psychotherapy, mindfulness training, breathwork, yoga, and meditation. While the clinic is only targeting people with treatment-resistant depression at the moment, EntheoMed Medical Director Dr Anita Sanan said it may expand in the future to those with depression. other mental health effects such as anxiety and obsessive-compulsive disorder.
Dr. Sanan, a board-certified anesthesiologist at Kelowna General Hospital, says the experience of ketamine can vary from patient to patient.
“Some people will simply feel relaxed and calm during ketamine treatment, some people may experience feelings of dissociation, such as being out of body or feeling like they are floating above themselves, and some people may have mystical experiences where they can see things or experience things in a completely different way or in a completely different way than they had before,” Dr. Sanan said. “They can also revisit some of their experiences past traumas, but seeing them from a different perspective and that’s actually what we’re trying to capitalize on is that experience.
“Ketamine is just the catalyst to get our brains to become a little more plastic or change so you can break or disrupt the negative thought processes of loops, but if you don’t capitalize on that change or exploit not this change, then the ketamine effect will wear off You really have to integrate with the intention, you have to integrate with psychotherapy to make lasting improvements such that the ketamine effect you got will be actually maintained.
A recent UBC Okanagan study reviewed more than 150 studies on the effectiveness of ketamine in the treatment of mental illness and determined that the drug has “significant anti-depressant and anti-suicidal effects.”
Although EntheoMed’s treatment method is an “off-label” use of ketamine – used in a manner not specifically approved by Health Canada – it is perfectly legal to experience what is colloquially known as a “trip” to ketamine when administered in a clinical setting.
“Most drugs throughout medical history were developed for one process or disease and were used for several others, these are all considered off-label uses of that drug,” Dr. Sanan said.
“The ketamine that we use in the clinic through intermuscular injection is actually a much lower dose than what we use in anesthesia or the ER, because we’re trying to get a different effect.”
But while ketamine is currently one of the only legal substances for psychedelic-assisted therapy, research has shown promising results for MDMA and psilocybin – the hallucinogenic compound of “magic mushrooms”.
“I think you’ll see psilocybin being regulated in a clinic like this in two to five years and MDMA will come with that as well,” Johnston predicted.
EntheoMed’s four-week program costs $5,600, but Johnston says some insurance companies may cover up to 25% of the psychotherapy portion of the program.
“As this type of therapy becomes more mainstream, more providers and insurance companies will switch to this because it covers things like SSRIs and if we can show that has a great efficiency, more and more insurance providers will come on board to cover this type of treatment,” Johnston said.
Those interested in the program will first need a referral from their doctor and Johnston says they already have around 200 people who have expressed interest. More information can be found on EntheoMed’s website.